Doctor's bag used by Dr James Jamieson (1840-1916)

Pre 1916
Leather doctor's bag, with snap clasp and carry handle, side pockets in interior, fabric lined. This bag and its contents were used by Dr. James Jamieson, who practised in Warrnambool and Melbourne, later lecturing in Obstetrics at the University of Melbourne. He died in 1916.

A graduate of Glasgow University, Dr James Jamieson (1840-1916) arrived in Australia 1868. Beginning his practice of medicine in Warrnambool, he later moved to Melbourne in 1877. Jamieson was active in developing the fledging professional association, the Medical Society of Victoria, as President from 1883 to 1887, a lecturer in Medicine at the University of Melbourne in obstetrics and diseases of women and children from 1879-87, and in the theory and practice of medicine from 1887-1908 and most significantly a reformer of the public health system.

While a student in Glasgow, Jamieson was taught by Joseph Lister who introduced new principles of hygiene which transformed surgical practice in the late 1800s. In Australia, Jamieson actively promoted the benefits of the germ theory of disease and Lister's antiseptic reforms which were still viewed sceptically, through journal articles and discussions at the Medical Society of Victoria. As the Medical City Health Officer for Melbourne, 1885 to 1912 he worked for the adoption of these hygienic practices in the Melbourne and Lying-In Hospitals to reduce the high mortality rates caused by overcrowding and unsanitary conditions.

Jamieson wanted women taught in separate classes at Melbourne Medical School, a practice not implemented. Women were only admitted to the Medical School in 1887, 25 years after its first lecture and 21 years before women were entitled to vote in Victoria. Jamieson’s daughter Margaret topped the final year honours list in 1907 at the University of Melbourne. Margaret attended the Australasian Medical Congress in 1908, where her father was also a delegate.
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Object detail

leather, metal, fabric
17.3 x 49 x 24 cm
Accession Number
Credit line
Dr James Jamieson
specifications/maker's mark ▫ stamped on base: 'SOLID LEATHER/18'
Object Type
Medical History Museum Category


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